Men, Sports & Synagogue

Judaism is not a spectator sport.


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Comments (17)

(17) Anonymous, April 3, 2008 12:14 AM

Good analogy. Also good to describe different roles of men and women.

Before I became observant, it sometimes seemed that women were seen as "second class citizens" in Judaism. Since I started learning and practicing, I am ever more and more blown away by how wrong that idea is. This sports analogy is a good one to explain this I think. If you view Judaism as a spectator sport, then you see the shul as the "arena" and the women in the "cheap seats". It's easy to see how that might be upsetting. But when you realize it is not a spectator sport, but that we are all participants - when you become a participant - you realize that the arena is not just the shul - but every surface of this earth. And that just as on a sports team you have different positions, such as offense and defense, men and women play different positions. Neither is "better" or "worse" than the other. They are simply different players with different strengths. And they use their strengths for the benefit of the whole team.

(16) Anonymous, February 21, 2008 10:45 AM

yet again women trying to straigthen out the men in there world

(15) George, February 20, 2008 10:04 PM

It is a team effort!

I loved the comment about not being spectatos, but participants. We need to bond to one another, each at one's own capability. I see this at our beloved Charger football games here in San Diego. there are older fans, newer fans,people from different ethnic groups who may not associate with one another during the week. But come a home game, everyone has their team jerseys on to support the team. There is one purpose, to gain the victory. In a sense, we become echad- all in agreement on the goal, becoming as a family helping one another out.

(14) Henry, February 19, 2008 9:49 PM

This is Judy

Beverly Kurtin was asking who is Judy. Well, she is comic Judy Tenuta, who performs and appears on CD, DVD and in films. She verbally abuses countless herds of mortal swine (her audience) and converts them to her signature religion "Judyism". She practices her own uniqe lifestyle.

You can check her out at Wikipedia, Amazon (CD sampling) and her own website.

(13) Andy, February 19, 2008 2:16 PM

praying beecomes a spectator sport for same reason as baseball

I think that most men become fans because they don't develop the skills to be professional players. Sadly, many Jews view prayer as a spectator sport because they also lack the skills. Just like in sports there are different levels of skill in praying .To feel connected to God when praying, and to experience that he is listening may be as difficult to achieve as playing a professional sport . Thank God there are yeshivas and outreach orgs that coach.
Your statement about your husband knowing who played third for the Yankees in 1962 caused me to think of Clete Boyer. He passed away last year. Great fielder OK hitter. No hall of famer like Luis Apariccio but it was a great pleasure to watch him play. The fact that an athlete will move to another team for a better contract seems to me to be similar to a great Rabbi moving on to a different yeshiva or congregation. One can still appreciate the time spent together and still gain pleasure from them if so inclined.

(12) Jean, February 19, 2008 10:54 AM

"My team" is my family's team

My love for sports teams has everything to do with my childhood in northern Massachusetts. I have no illusion about paid professional players who would leave our team and play for our arch rival as having anything to do with me, or what is important in this world. What I love, even as a middle aged woman, is rooting for our team with my parents, my extended family, and my dearest friends from childhood. Ask any one who is a sports fan who they root for -- it depends on where they grew up. Few people will move to another city and adopt that team with the fervor they do their hometown team --its not about baseball. I remember watching baseball games with my favorite aunt, the playoffs with my parents and staying on the telephone for hours with my friends as our team played the important game. The tie isn't the team, its the other fans. Its relationships with real people you love.

(11) Mitch Goldberg, February 19, 2008 10:48 AM

4 on 10 score

Lori, I love your wisdom and insight, I'm a big fan. This week's almost live was weak and disconnected ... spectator sport... spectator in Synagogue... shoot for 10 on 10 score next week :-)

(10) Benjamin, February 19, 2008 8:57 AM

I wish I saw this 19 years ago!

Lori hits the nail on the head when she talks about prayer as a personal conversation with G-d. I empathize with the writer who commented that they would rather pray at home with their own words because it's a more personal communication. However, the problem with this approach is that you are truly on your own. A minyan can be seen as a distraction, but it can also be seen as a kind of support group. And a prayer book can be viewed like inspired poetry (and someone else's poetry for that matter), or it can be seen as a guidebook for all the ways to best express a relationship with G-d based on love and respect. I could have used this blog entry when I became obsevant many years ago, and had to learn this lesson on my own. Yasher koach Lori!

(9) Joey, February 19, 2008 8:21 AM

I've never been much of a sports fan (elementary school PE turned me off THAT forever) but I imagine that part of the appeal is that, even if you are just a spectator, following a team and rooting for them and all that makes people feel, on some level, like they _are_ part of the team, like in supporting the team they are helping to strengthen it. As for men's attitude about sports, it may be simply because, while women generally have a stronger connection to the spiritual aspect of reality, men are more connected, generally, to the physical world and concrete actions.

God bless.

(8) Anonymous, February 18, 2008 9:50 PM

To Beverly

I hear what you are saying, but in truth, Judy-ism is a very acceptable form of pronunciation of this word. I haven't heard it pronounced Judah-ism, even though that's the way it's spelled. Pronunciation is a funny thing, particularly in the English language.

I have heard it pronounced Juday-ism, as well as the Judy-ism above, but not Judah-ism as in the name Judah. Was it originally pronounced that way? Perhaps! Our English language has evolved quite a bit, and is often confusing to me!

(7) Marc, February 18, 2008 1:58 PM

Go Milwaukee Brewers!

I'm a Jew and a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan. Go figure!

(6) Batsheva, February 18, 2008 12:23 AM

To Beverly

Judah was Abraham's great grandson, and his name was not changed to Israel, Jacob's name was changed to Israel after he successfully fought Eisav's angel.

You may want to check out the Crash Course in Jewish History to help you get it all straight.

(5) Anonymous, February 17, 2008 6:32 PM

Fan or Fanatic 2

Forgot to mention: "Fan" is short for fanatic. Really "something to think about."

(4) Kelly Woo, February 17, 2008 4:48 PM

how funny.....

I have often thought about what makes sports so appealing as my husband is an avid basketball fan. I took the time to learn everything about the sport and to me it still looks like men running one way - and then the other way! What's the big deal! As for shul, it feels very lonely when everybody seems to know what's going on, and you are the only one who doesn't. Plus, I become acutely aware that everybody seems to know everybody else and to be dressed in a particular way, talking using expressions I don't understand - very uncomfortable! I feel closer to God just praying by myself in my own home using my own words.

(3) Beverly Kurtin, February 17, 2008 12:56 PM

Who is Judy?

I keep hearing of a religion called "Judyism." Who was Judy? I belong to a faith called Judaism...Judah as in one of Abraham's grandsons whose name was changed to Israel.

But WHO IS JUDY? Her I don't know; I know Judah and Judaism.

Pass it on...

(2) Rosen, February 17, 2008 11:28 AM

sports talk & other conversations

Talking about sports often pertains to those wanting their home team to win, and sometimes making fun of others of where their from because they don't like their home team.

As for me, I'd prefer to watch most sports on TV, especially NFL football. If I want to do something more active with sports myself, I like to go golfing, fishing, and work out at the gym. I don't necessarily see the need to "pump up" other than have good, broad body tone.

When seeing sports events, it's often best to watch them at home on TVs or HDTVs.

As for following G-d's will, going to shul is one way to stand before Him, and I usually do on high-holidays, social events, and shabbases. Another way I serve G-d is when I receive direct mail from different Jewish and secular organizations, I place them in a physical inbox, and when I have just enough money to spare, I donate to these charities. That's where I feel G-d is my supervisor in that case, because I understand He needs money for me to be His hands in giving to the poor and other decent charitable causes.

I don't feel too devastated if my home team loses, because there is always next season. Since I like the Washington Redskins, hopefully Jim Zorn can help get them closer to the Superbowl as the new head coach (even though he isn't very well recognized before the team made the announcement to hire him).

(1) Anonymous, February 17, 2008 10:43 AM

Fan or Fanatic

First let me "say" that "Judaism is not a spectator sport" is a line very familiar to my students. The message is at least as appropriate today as it was when I left the formal classroom close to ten years ago.

The Jew "knows" somehow that there is much more to life than getting up and going to work only to come home to eat and rest in order to start all over the next day. So the soul-filled, made in the image of G-d Jew searches. (He also "knows" somehow that being made in the image of G-d means he must create. So he invents; machines, computers, vaccines, political philosophies, you name it.)

But the Jews need for excitement can and will be fulfilled only through Torah and Mitzvohs.

A ba'al teshuvah myself, I would never had been "turned on" to Yiddishkeit by showing me it too has sports, food, parties, etc. There is nothing in the way of sports, food or parties in the Jewish world that can compete to that which exists in the non-Jewish world. Only Torah and mitzvohs can possibly fill that void, need, striving, and yearning.

Continue all your great work.

 

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